Dry stack marina. Copyrights Bart Stroiński
Boat storage for beginners
By: Karen O’Keefe
You’ve fallen in love with your first boat and are anxious to put her to the test. Now where are you going to keep it? Unless you live on the water and have your own boat slip, you’re going to have to find a safe place to keep your boat until you’re ready to use it. There are many options for a new boat owner to consider.

Dry storage

Dry storage means that your boats will be kept on land in either a rack or a trailer. One reason why you would choose this option is because most boat thefts occur when they’re already in the water. It’s harder to steal a boat that is hoisted up in the air than one that is in the water and ready to go. It can also cost less to store your boat on land instead of a slip. Ease of transportation is another plus for this method provided that you already have a vehicle able to tow it. And you don’t necessarily have to store your boat away from home if you have enough room on your property to keep it there. There’s something comforting about knowing your boat is right there whenever you have a hankering to fish. You can also tinker with the motor or shine her up whenever the mood strikes. Another plus is your boat probably won’t need bottom paint.

For those who can’t keep their boat at home, there’s always the option to store it in a yard. It’s a necessity for those who live in the city or in a restricted community. While it’s certainly a blessing for those who don’t have the luxury of storing their boat at home, yard storage can have its disadvantages. When your boat is racked, you may have to wait until there is a vehicle available to pull your boat out. They may not want to or be able to be there to pull her out when you want to splash in the wee hours of the morning. You must abide by their schedule, which can fluctuate according to hours and demand. Make sure you find out how many times you can take your boat out each month; they may charge an additional fee for each time you go beyond the proposed limit in your contract. You might even have to incur the cost of buying your own trailer so be you will be able to absorb that additional expense.

Moorings

You may want to moor your boat, an option which costs less than keeping it in a marina. A boat which is moored is secured by cables, anchors or lines to the sea beds. The lines run from the screws to a float on the water. Your boat would be attached to those lines. Some moorings are bow-only, which means that a craft moves fore and aft with the wind and water current but not side to side. This allows the owner to store boats closer to each other so be prepared to say ‘Ahoy!’ to your neighbors! Although you may prefer the spaciousness of your own boat slip, moorings are less expensive than keeping your boat in a marina. You’ll also be more likely to find a vacancy and unless you’re planning to host a party on your boat without ever weighing anchor, the added savings is well worth any minor inconvenience. The best part is knowing that your boat is ready to go whenever you are – at least as long as you own a dinghy.

Is your boat safe in a mooring? Chances are there won’t be anyone to keep a close eye on your boat, its lines or chafe gear. You will need to check your gear often and if you can’t, arrange for a friend to do it for you. A mooring is great place to keep your boat during the in-season but remember that it’s tough to work on the boat when it’s bobbing up and down over wakes or swing back and forth due to winds. If you plan to work on your boat while it’s moored, ensure that you have all of the necessary tools in the dinghy before you ever leave shoreline.

Finally, always check the reputation of the company who owns the moorings before making a commitment. Ask other boat owners if they can recommend this company or if there have been complaints. Check with members of a local boating club to see if they can steer you in the right direction if there have been negative remarks about the place where you plan to moor your boat. Why settle for less when you can find better accommodations for your prized possession? You may even want to consider a private mooring which you would maintain yourself or have someone do it for you. Remember, you will probably need a permit to put down a private mooring.

Marinas

Just the word ‘marina’ sparks up all sorts of exciting imagery which includes wild parties, hot bikini-clad girls, champagne and caviar and the excesses of the filthy rich. While these scenes certainly do come to life in some of the larger marinas situated in exotic places, remember that the wealthy have to pay a steep price for such decadence. How big is your pocketbook? We’d all like to rub shoulders with the rich and famous but remind yourself of why you bought your boat and what you’d like to do with it. Combine your end goal with a cost that is comfortable to your budget, and you can find a marina that is perfect for you.

Marinas come in all sizes from small and simple to the vast multi-million dollar resort-style facility which has everything that a person might want. The marina you choose should be tailored to not only to your means but also to your desires. Are you sailing around the world, stopping at all the popular locations, seeing the sights and enjoying the vacation of all time? If you can afford it, a large and fully-equipped marina might be just the ticket for you. You can feel free to stay as long as you want and take advantage of first-class hotels, swimming pools, movie stars. Your boat will be safe under the scrutiny of security guards and surveillance cameras. The camaraderie is legend; you’ll make many new friends that you may meet again someday on your travels.

What about a smaller marina – what does it have to offer you? First, a smaller facility costs much less than the larger ones although the amenities are not quite as fancy. Smaller marinas are generally easier to navigate in and this is important for new boaters. Most marinas have a harbormaster who coordinates day-to-day operations and is available to help if you should find yourself in a jam. Remember that all marinas have rules – and plenty of them – so be sure to read their regulations and abide by them. If you don’t understand anything, there is no shame in asking for an explanation. The staff would much rather ensure that you know what the rules are than have you accidentally break them. Above all, always be respectful to fellow boaters and they will likely repay you in kind.

Yacht clubs

Yacht clubs are great places for the boating community to get together. Some clubs have mooring fields or marinas but remember that slip or mooring fees usually aren’t included in your membership dues. At times, yacht club fees can even be cheaper than a marina. Fellow boaters tend to keep an eye on each other’s craft so chances are good that your boat will be safe. Just like a marina, there are specific rules and regulations regarding when you can access your boat and the hours of operation.

Yacht club memberships are not a given – you will need to be formally accepted into the club first. But once you become a member, be prepared to meet like-minded individuals who enjoy boating to the fullest. It’s a great place to make meet new people and create life-long friends.